So Arsène, Deal Or No Deal – Don’t Let The Bankers Decide For You
The media-politick has finished, spin spun and now the Machiavellian dealings return to the corridors of Totteridge whereupon very little will be publicly announced. D-day for Arsenal and Robin van Persie; D for Deal, that is although if negotiations run smoothly I am sure that a tabloid headline of VP Day will surface. Aah, I saved them the trouble.
Sealing a deal in one day of negotiations would be sterling work by Arsenal and entirely surprising. Arsène said he wanted this resolved before the European Championships which was always a tight deadline, made seemingly impossible by holding this meeting less than twenty-four hours before van Persie joins the Oranje on their quest for glory this summer. Unless of course the outcome is already decided which would tie in with the seeming disinterest of the captain in money. A tawdry subject or posturing, clever manoeuvering having seen the derision and disdain served on Samir Nasri and to a lesser extent Cesc Fabregas last summer?
No doubt there will be a hackwatch clock somewhere with a sliding scale marking milestones, a meeting less than an hour long will indicate that negotiations have broken down although it might mean Arsenal’s offer was entirely on the nose – bang on the money? Several hours long signals that Arsenal / van Persie drove a hard bargain but in fact only shows that the debate over whether or not ‘ai‘ is a genuinely word allowed in Scrabble – Kees Vos cursing the three-toed sloth as Arsène won through using a triple word score.
As I mentioned yesterday and previously on the blog, my own view is that van Persie will not leave this summer. There is no financial necessity for Arsenal to sell. As much as Lukas Podolski might view himself as being akin to the club signing three forwards due to his versatility, he will need that treble firepower to make up for the lack of goals scored by others before taking on the burden of emulating van Persie.
I would like the Dutchman to stay – you want the best players at Arsenal – but if he feels that he cannot fulfil his career at The Emirates then he will leave. Despite much media speculation, I don’t envisage any circumstance where Arsenal would sell to Manchester City, certainly not at the £25m being quoted in the media. That just does not make football sense, releasing a key player to a rival team at market value does not reflect the premium surely payable. The club would be looking to add a third to that fee for selling to a Premier League team or so it seems it ought to be from the comfort of this desk and chair.
If Arsène has polarised opinions this season, Alex Song has been equally divisive and news of a new deal will not universally popular. Each team has to have a regular first team player who is the target of critical comments and having weathered the storm before, the teacup this time around is barely moving by comparison. Song’s role has become confused in some quarters; a strong desire for a standard defensive midfielder pushes that responsibility onto the Cameroonean and primarily that is his role. At Arsenal it is not that simple though with creativity demanded as well, flexibility requiring rotation between himself and Arteta to provide the barrier; one attacks, the other provides defensive cover. To assign that to one player simplifies your opponents task of nullifying a threat.
That said, Song does not help himself with a languid style and performance levels that have dipped at times this season. Yet he has been very productive with sixteen assists last season quadrupling his contribution in 2010-11. That identifies how much reliance was placed on Cesc primarily; Song had to stay back more often. This time the balance of the side is different without a pivotal midfielder. Arteta, Song and Rosicky can be formidable attackers but I would not put much stock by Rosicky as a defensive midfielder. It is why I think the links to M’vila are strong, Arsène wanting to balance the attacking instincts with a solid platform. Amusingly, some still do not see that this is the manager trying to address the defensive issues; defending begins in attack.
Elsewhere the provisional England squad is named today with few believing that anyone other than Theo Walcott of the Arsenal players will be named. I cannot see that there is much to support the inclusion of Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gibbs. For me both are too inexperienced in their roles, in particular AOC who is not a regular for the first team yet. In Gibbs case, Cole and Baines offer more reliability and this time it might be just too soon for the left back. I would suggest that 2014 in Brazil will be the time when both are included. Who knows, if Jack Wilshere is fit by then, we might provide a third of the England team?